02 May, 2011

Electronic Tools for Translators in the 21st Century


 Personal computers and the Internet have brought about a shift in the way translators work. Twenty years ago most freelance translators used a typewriter or dictated translations to a secretary; ten years ago they had a computer with a word processor; nowadays most translators need to know how to use translation-memory software and terminology managers, and must be expert Internet users. They might also have replaced the secretary with a voice-recognition software system. Telecommuting is now a reality within the profession, since electronic means of communication mean that customers and translators no longer need to be in the same geographical area, and members of the same translation team may live and work in different places. The Internet (and, by extension, computer proficiency) is not only a source of information or a tool for translations, but also the platform for communication with clients, agencies and fellow translators.   
  • Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) software is helpful to translators, since it speeds up the translation process.
  • The translator has to consider the software licenses restricting the use of the program and its cost.  
  •  Licensing schemes are of two categories: open-source/ free software and close-source/proprietary software.
  •  Accordingly, the programs are one of the following types:
1. Commercial software is computer software sold for commercial purposes.
2. Free software can be used, copied, studied, modified, and redistributed without restriction. ‘free’ of ‘freedom’ and not ‘free of charge’
3. Freeware ‘free of charge’ copyrighted computer software which made available for use free of charge for an unlimited time
4. Shareware (opposes freeware) the user has to pay after some trial period (usually no longer than 30 days.)
  • CAT technology is either electronic tools or other useful software packages

·   A blog can be created by following easy steps in a free weblog publishing system as Blogger (http://www.blogger.com/) after which a person can talk about any topic and can publish.
·   Among the blogs from which translators can get some recommendations as translation notes is (http://www.transnotes.blogspot.com/)

 Image Editors

·   ‘Translators are expected to have some basic skills in order to undertake a translation job which deal with graphics’
·   They should be aware of the existence of image editors such as Photoshop (http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop/, commercial), Pain Shop Pro (http://www.corel.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=Corel3/Products/Display&pfid=1047024307383&pid=1047025487586,%20/ shareware), Photo Filtre (http://www.photofiltre.com/ freeware), and The GIMP(http://www.gimp.com/ free)

 CAT Tool

Translation Memory Systems

·   Using translation memories allows translators to leverage previous translations
·   The most popular translation memory system is SDL Trados (http://www.trados.com/, commercial)
·   Other cheaper ones are Wordfast (http://www.wordfast.com/, commercial), and DéjàVu (http://www.atril.com/, commercial)
Terminology Tools

·   For terminological consistency, terminologists may use term-extraction and concordance tools such as WordSmith Tools (http://www.lexically.net/worlsmith/, commercial; version 3.0 is freeware), TextStat (http://www.niederlandistik.fu-berlin.de/texstat/software-en.html, freeware) and AntConc (http://antlab.sci.waseda.ac.jp/antconc_index.html, freeware)

 Web Localization Tools

·   To have a multilingual website, translators are advised to become familiar with tools for web localization such as the HTML editors like Dreamweaver (http://www.adobe.com/products/dreamwweaver/, commercial) and NVU (http://www.nvu.com/, free) in order
·   Such tools preserve the original layout by avoiding any modification
·   Other CAT tools may also allow the user to see both the source and the target texts at the same time and preview the translation in the browser
(http://www.stormdance.net/software/catscradle/overview.htm, freeware) is a reference for CAT tools for web localization

Software Localization Tools

·   In order to translate software, it is necessary to deal with localization tools to extract or edit the menu, window and message strings in a single resource file.
·   The leading CAT tools for software localization are Alchemy Catalyst (http://www.alchemysoftware.ie/products/catalyst.html, commercial) and Passolo (http://www.passolo.com/, commercial).

 Subtitling Tools

·   Many young translators prefer translating a film through subtitling than a legal contract.
·   Many subtitlers subtitle TV shows and spread them over the internet, while others code software programs to subtitle TV series to get some feedbacks from other subtitlers via forums.

   Machine Translation Systems

·   Nowadays, machine translation produces good-quality results with simple texts or texts with controlled language such weather forecasts.
·   However, some editing is still required before and after processing a text in a machine translation system.
·   There are many free online machine translation systems such as Altavista’s Babelfish (http://babelfish.altavista.com/); commercial systems (http://www.smartlinkcorp.com/), Systran (http://www.systransoft.com/) and Power Translator (http://www.avanquest.com/)

 PDF Tools (Portable Document Format)

PDF files can never be modified, so there is no risk of losing the format when different version of the same software is used.

 PDF Readers

·   The PDF reader is Acrobat Reader (http://www.adobe.com/uk/products/acrobat/readstep2, freeware)

·   Another PDF reader is Foxit Reader (http://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/rd_intro.php, freeware)

 PDF Creators

·   To produce PDF files, PDF creators can be installed as “virtual printers”
·   Such PDF creators are  Acrobat Professional (http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobatpro/, commercial) and PDFCreator (http://sourceforge.net/projects/pdfcreator/, free)

 PDF Converters

·   To edit a PDF file, it needs to be converted by a converter to a Word document.
·   Good converters are Solid Converter (http://www.solidpdf.com/, shareware) and ABBYY PDF Transformer (http://www.abbyy.com/pdftransformer/, shareware)

 PDF Editors

·   Converting a PDF file to a Word document may not maintain the same quality.
·   Thus, PDF editors can be used to edit PDF files directly, preserving the original layout.
·   PDF editors are (http://www.iceni.com/infix.htm, shareware) and Foxit PDF Editors (http://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/pe_intro.php, shareware) 

 Desktop Publishing Tools

·   As opposed to Word Processors, which are used to write documents, Desktop Publishing tools (DTP) are used to design a stylish layout for a journal or magazine.
·   The translator does not necessarily need to know how to create a document from scratch, but s/he will be benefited from having the DTP skills
·   The best-known DTP tools are FrameMaker (http://www.adobe.com/products/framaker/index.html, commercial), InDesign (http://www.adobe.com/products/indesign/, commercial), QuarkXPress (http://www.quark.com/, commercial) and Scribus (http://www.scribus.net/, free)

 Proofreading Tools

·   ‘Proofreading is a process which focus on the correction of errors such as misspellings or typos and mistakes in grammar and punctuation’
·   PDF proofreading tools are Highlight Tool and the Strikethrough Tool
·   Other cheaper alternatives are Foxit Reader Pro (http://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/rd_rd_pro.php, shareware), Jaws PDF Editors (http://www.jawspdf.com/pdf_editor/index.html, shareware) and Bluebeam Revu (http://www.bluebeam.com/web03/products/BbRevu.asp, shareware)    

Tools for Freelance Translators
Billing Software

·   Before attempting a freelance job, it is advisable to know the price the translator will charge.
·   Among the billing software that can help to manage translation invoices are BillQuick (http://www.bqe.com/, shareware), Freeside (http://www.sisd.com/freeside/, free), and FactuSol (http://www.sistemasmultimedia.com/es/factusol.htm, freeware, in Spanishh)  

 Internet Fax Services

·   Windows comes with a fax service that uses a modem to send fax.
·   Another source fax service is though the Internet like InterFAX (http://www.interfax.net/en/, commercial), FaxZero (http://faxzero.com/, free for the US and Canada) or TrusFax (http://www.trustfax.com/pricing.asp?code=reseller6, commercial)

 Other Useful Software Packages

·   There are three other useful software packages which come handy when using the computer: anti-malware software, file compressors/decompressors, and miscellaneous tools

 Anti-malware Software

Malicious software is designed to infiltrate computers. It includes computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware and adware.

 Antivirus Software

·   It is important to install an antivirus program to detect and eliminate computer viruses
·   The best antivirus software packages include AVP (http://www.packagw..kaspersky.com/, commercial), Norton Antivirus (http://www.symantec.com/index.htm, commercial), McAfee Antivirus (http://www.mcafee.com/index.htm, commercial), AntiVir (http://www.free-av.com/, freeware) and AVG (http://www.grisoft.com/dec/1, freeware)

 Anti-spyware Software

·   The most popular software used to fight spyware is Ad-aware (http://www.lavasofrtusa.com/software/adaware/, freeware)
·   There are two other alternatives such as SpyBot Seach & Destroy (http://www.safer-networking.org/, freeware) and Spyware Terminator (http://www.spywareterminator.com/, freeware)


·   ‘A firewall is a piece of software that tracks every attempt to access a computer and asks its user to grant permission to execute something when software receives data from the Internet’
·   It perfectly works together with antivirus software to block online viruses.
·   Examples of firewalls are ZoneAlarm (http://www.zonelabs.com/store/content/home.jsp, freeware & shareware), Kerio (http://www.kerio.com/, shareware) and NetDefender (http://www.programmerworld.net/personal/firewall.htm, free) 

  File Compressors/Decompressors

·   File compressors reduce the file size depending on the file type to be able to send and receive the file on the Internet.
·   Compression file formats are zip, rar, ace, 7z
·   The most popular file compressor is WinZip (http://www.winzip.com/, commercial)
·   Other alternatives are WinRAR (http://www.rarlab.com/, shareware), WinACE(http://www.winace.com/, shareware), 7Zip(http://www.7-zip.org/, free), ALZip(http://www.altools.net/, freeware), and IZArc (http://www.izarc.org/, freeware)  

 Miscellaneous Tools

Miscellaneous tools are other useful tools for translators:

·   Search and Replace Tools: InfoRapid Search & Replace (http://www.inforapid.de/html/searchreplace.htm, freeware) and Actual Search & Replace (http://www.divlocsoft.com/, shareware)
·   Screen Capture Tools: WinSnap (http://www.ntwind.com/software/winsnap.html?index.html, freeware), MWSnap (http://www.mirekw.com/winfreeware/mwsnap.html, freeware) and Snaglt (http://www.techsmith.com/snagit.asp, shareware)
·   File Compression Tools: WinMerge (http://winmerge.sourceforge.net/, free) and ExamDiff (http://www.prestosoft.com/ps.asp?page=edp_examdiff, freeware)
·   Mass Renaming Tools: ReNamer (http://www.redbrick.dcu.ie/~den4b/, freeware), Lupas Rename (http://ww.azheavymetal.com/~lupasrename/news.php/, freeware), Flexible Renamer (http://hp.vector.co.jp/authors/V%20A014830/english/FlexRena/ freeware)


·   Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) includes electronic tools and other useful software packages
·   Electronic tools are NINE: word possessors, electronic dictionaries and encyclopedias, tools for the Internet, image editors, CAT tools, PDF tools, desktop publishing tools, proofreading tools, tools for freelance translators
·   Other THREE useful software packages include anti-malware software, file compressors/decompressors, miscellaneous tools.

The difference between proofreading and editing

The difference between proofreading and editing

There always has been a dilemma about the difference between proofreading and editing in the world of translation. To many of us, both terms mean the same, but there is actually quite a difference. While proofreading of a given text may take only half an hour, the editing of that very same text can take up to three hours - or even more. So how do these two processes differ?

To begin with, we need to define both terms:

This is a process whereby the text is being scanned for grammar, syntax and spelling errors. This process typically involves much the same correction as a secondary school teacher would perform on a written test. The meaning of words and terminology is irrelevant here, as the job focuses only on the correctness of the text. Therefore, the use of a dictionary is necessary only to check spelling and conjugation, not much else. Also, this work does not involve the use of a CAT tool.

Proofing is best paid by the hour, as not all words are worked on by the proofreader. However, in the case of a very poorly written text, it may come in handy to be paid by the word, especially if more than 50% of words need to be retyped.

Proofreading is something that is used less and less, as most software nowadays automatically corrects the errors that would be picked up by the proofreader. It's almost like having a virtual proofreader built into the software. Typically, proofreading is charged at around 25% of the price that would be charged for the translation of the same text.


This process concentrates less on the form and more on the terminology. Editing involves checking to make sure that correct terminology was used. This is achieved by researching each term that raises a doubt, or even terms that are unknown to the editor, just to make sure that the right terms were used. This typically involves research - whether online or in specialized dictionaries - accompanied by recommended corrections. Usually, when working in Word, the track changes feature is used, and sometimes only comments are added through the commenting tool of Word. In either case, the editor only recommends changes and does not implement them. This is because, when there are errors, it is usually up to the original translator to correct their own mistakes (many translators have a clause in their contract for this, as well as agencies). So, the recommendations of the editor are usually sent back to the translator first so that he/she can correct his/her mistakes, and only then is the text proofread, if it needs to be at all. CAT tools are frequently used for this work, as wrong terms are often used throughout the text and they also need to be replaced. However, search & replace tools will also do in the case of shorter or less complex texts.

Editing is either paid by the hour or by the word. I have done both and both methods work fine. However, keep in mind that, when you charge by the hour, hourly rates for proofreading and editing should not be inferior to the hourly rate you would charge for translation. If you charge USD 40 for translation, charge the same for proofreading and editing also, as you really DID work that many hours. There still will be a big difference in costs for the outsourcer or agency, as the translation of the text will take much more time than its proofreading or editing. The text that will take four hours to translate will only take about one hour to be proofread, so, while the translation would cost USD 160, the proofreading would only cost USD 40, and so forth. Keep this in mind when quoting hourly rates.

What's up with all that?
The reason why it is important to distinguish between these two processes is that, more often than not, outsourcers call editing proofreading and vice versa. While most of them do this only because they don't make a difference between the two, a few of them will actually "lure" you into editing a document - at proofreading rates.

I strongly recommend to get paid for both of these jobs at an hourly rate, as all jobs differ in difficulty. This way, no matter how tough a job is, you will always get what your work is worth.

On a closing note, even if it's not quite the subject, PLEASE, do sign a contract for every job you do, no matter how small. It is the only way you can get paid and the only guarantee that no more than what was agreed in the contract will be expected of you - in other words, you will not need to put in any "volunteer" work.

Text revision and translation

Text revision
Text revision is basically the process of making changes in a text written by someone else. This could be a translation or an original text composed in a foreign language (or even the native language).
The term 'text revision' covers a lot of different procedures, as there are many things you can do to a text. The main purpose, of course, is to make sure that the intended idea of the text comes cross to the intended target reader.
1.     Correction of grammar and vocabulary (and spelling)
The most basic, and most essential, type of text revision consists in correcting errors in the text you're presented with. This is important for various reasons: some types of mistakes give rise to misunderstandings, others make the text almost impossible to read, and others again are just plain embarrassing.
2.     Minimization of implicature
We humans tend to operate with a lot of implied meaning (i.e. between-the-lines meaning) which is not directly expressed by the words used in the text. Now, we do this primarily because we assume that it is not necessary to spell out the implied information as we expect the reader to figure it out on their own (we assume common ground with the reader, so we basically think that the implied meaning is based on knowledge that the reader already has and shares with us. However, not all readers share common ground with us, and therefore it is a good idea to bring out the implied meaning into the open and express it overtly, so readers that do not share common ground with us will be able to understand the text completely.
Another reason for minimization of implicature is that some readers might infer implicit meanings from the text which where not intended. Some people just infer all sorts of meanings, because they have a tendency to (maybe they are paranoid and thus think all texts are full of hidden attacks on them), and there is not much one can do about that. However, if you scrutinize a number of texts, you will find that a lot of them contain formulations, phrases, structures and words which are ambiguous or which do suggest certain implicit meanings. One way to do that is to, through text revision, get rid of those, changing them into other, less ambiguous, structures.
3.     Text optimalization
You may be asked to optimize the text, which basically means that you have to streamline it, such that it conveys as much information as possible without being too long and clumsy. This often involves use of information structuring devices such as certain constructions and patterns of word order. You might even have to restructure the entire text.
Note that minimization of implicature is basically a type of text optimalization.
4.     Reader-friendliness
Maybe the text is simply 'reader-unfriendly' for whatever reason (poor writing skills, heavy diction, clumsy structures etc.), and you may be asked to change it into something more reader-friendly.
5.     Register transposition
Finally, you might be asked to rewrite the text into another register. There could be many reasons for this, such as:
• new target reader group
• register of original text outdated
• adapting the text to a new context
• change of purpose of the text
• the register is incompatible with the domain
• the text is too subjective (or not subjective enough)
• etc.
A register is basically a variety of a language that is associated with a specific situation or a specific context or a specific genre of discourse (these contexts go under the name of domains). For instance, some contexts call for formal English while informal English may be more appropriate in others. And when you talk computers with your geek friends, you use a specific jargon that you would not use when performing a religious ceremony. In some contexts, you may use a very objective variant of English, while in others a more opinionated, emotional, subjective one might be appropriate.
A lot of well established English registers even have names, such as Motherese, Technical English, Medical English, Journalese (there is even something called Headlinese), Religious English, Academic English etc.
For instance, if you are a politician who wants to persuade people into following you, you would want to deploy objective and scientific, and perhaps slightly formal language (without overdoing it) appealing to their sense of logic and rational argumentation with target reader groups consisting of academics, while you would use a more informal register, deploying expressions that appeal to emotions with target readers who have no education. Admitted, we are stereotyping here, but you get the point.
6.     The importance of text revision
Needless to say, text revision is vital. The whole purpose of an informative test is to convey information, and if the original writer fails to get it across, he or she will need someone to do it for him or her. Otherwise, people will not understand the text properly. Moreover, texts which are full of mistakes are difficult to read, and they also tend to lack credibility (people just do not trust people who cannot spell or who do not know proper grammar), and texts that are error-ridden often tend to become objects of ridicule.
Text Revision and Translation Kim Ebensgaard Jensen
Fall 2009 AAU, Almen Engelsk, 3rd. semester